If a person dies in a hospital, the nurses and doctors who have been caring for the deceased until the time of death will be well-equipped to take the next necessary steps and handle the situation in an appropriate and compassionate matter. While it might not make the bereavement any easier for those left behind, it may be comforting to know that the situation is in the best possible hands.
Informing next of kin
After the death has been confirmed by the medical team, the hospital or care home will contact the deceased’s next of kin to break the news. You or someone else close to the deceased may be required to come onto the premises to formally identify their body and, if the situation warrants it, grant permission for a post-mortem to be conducted if the cause of death is unclear. However, this permission is not required in situations where a coroner is called in.
Storage of body and belongings
The body of the deceased will be washed and kept in the hospital mortuary until such time as it is to be collected by you, your family or your funeral director. This duty is normally undertaken by a fully trained funeral director who is experienced in handling cadavers and can give your loved one the care, attention and respect they deserve. While it may be cheaper to dispense with the services of a funeral director, those considering doing so are advised to bear in mind the expertise and emotional support one can offer.
The hospital will also hang on to any belongings and personal effects left behind by the deceased until they are collected by the executor of the deceased’s estate. They will issue a receipt for such effects upon their collection.
The doctor in charge of caring for your loved one until their death will handle the necessary paperwork. If there were no complications as to the cause of death, they will normally be able to give you a medical certificate with the cause of death immediately (a document which is vital for registering the death). If the coroner has to conduct a post-mortem, delivery of the medical certificate will have to be delayed until that has taken place.
Completion of all documentation can sometimes take time, as it must be undertaken only by those healthcare professionals who were directly involved in the care of the deceased. To make matters simpler, most hospitals and care homes operate an appointment system, whereby you can designate a time and date convenient to you to pick up the documents and any personal effects of the deceased.
If the deceased has signed up to the organ donor register and their body is eligible for donation, the hospital’s coordinator of organ transplant will speak to the next of kin as soon as possible. It is vital that the necessary organs and tissues are removed as soon after the death occurs as possible.
If the deceased had not yet signed up for organ donation but you believe that they would have wanted to contribute to medical science, it may be possible for their organs to still be donated. Again, it’s imperative you alert the hospital staff of this fact as soon as possible after (or preferably, before) their death. It is not possible to donate the deceased’s whole body if they have not given written permission to do so prior to their death.
To learn more about organ and body donation, read this informative article on the subject.
All deaths must be registered within five days of the event taking place. The doctor or other medical professional who delivers the medical certificate to you can provide information on how to go about doing so. It’s also a good idea to contract a funeral director (if you wish to do so) as soon as possible to take care of the necessary arrangements surrounding storage and care of the body, as well as the funeral service itself.
For some friendly impartial advice on how to choose a funeral director, or for information on any other topic surrounding the loss of a loved one, get in touch with Your Funeral Choice on 01983 754 387. We’re waiting to hear from you.